Reuters organized a panel discussion between a blogger, journalists, and a U.S. military spokesman. They couldn't agree on much, except that the coverage of Iraq is either too positive or too negative.
U.S. media coverage of Iraq is too polarized between "good news" and "bad news" and all sides are missing out on a complete picture, participants in a panel discussion organized by Reuters said on Wednesday.
That was one of the few points of agreement between journalists, a professional blogger and a U.S. military spokesman gathered in New York to discuss media in Iraq.
"If you write a 'good news' story from Iraq you are immediately identified as an apologist for the administration ... and if you write something critical then you're in the other camp," said Roger Cohen, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune who was recently in Iraq.
Today's starters: Keeping with its tradition of political fairness and neutrality, Middle Tennessee State University is continuing its journalism conference (conference called: Self-Inflicted Wounds — Fact and Fiction in Journalism: Fabrication, Plagiarism and Confidential Sources)--kicked off earlier this week by an address from that paragon of objectivity Al Gore--with a panel discussion featuring Mary Mapes. The session is entitled "Rush to Judgment? The CBS Crisis." Any NB readers in the area?
The big media story of the day, as reported earlier by NB's Mark Finkelstein, is that Katie Couric is headed over to CBS. The NYT and LAT both have good good stories the deal and its implications. Why does Couric's leaving warrant attention, asks one blogger. Another says she won't watch "Today" if it hires "View" co-host Meredith Viera.
President Bush spoke at a Naturalization Ceremony Monday and renewed his call for immigration reform. The transcript of the speech is 5 pages long. The Associated Press and Reuters published less than 8 lines from the entire speech. To add insult to injury, both news organizations used the exact same quotes from the speech. The statements used were included at the end of the speech during the wrap up. They neglected to cite any statements from the speech where the President restated his stance on immigration and laid out his ideas on immigration reform.
“I believe every new citizen has an obligation to learn the customs and values that define our nation, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God, tolerance for others and the English language.”
“Immigration is also an emotional topic. And we need to maintain our perspective as we conduct this debate.”
How is anyone supposed to view Reuters as an unbiased and objective news agency when it publishes photos like this?
As you can see, the word "Retire" is perfectly framed behind the head of Vice President Dick Cheney. It just seems too "perfect" for this to be called an "accident." How much more evidence does one need to see that the MSM is simply downright hostile to this administration?
Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, speaking at the Online Publishers Association conference in London, said journalists need to adapt to the new media.
Reports the London Guardian: "Tom Glocer said that media organisations needed to understand their true value in order to make the most of the online world."
"I believe the world will always need editing," he said. "Just because everyone has the potential to publish their own blog, doesn't mean they're all worth reading. The role of companies like ours is to edit and filter, and provide open tools for the audience. The good stuff will float to the top.
Conservatives should be happy to see Reuters running a story headlined "Abortion rights groups say battle being lost." But reporter Carey Gillam conducts an almost perfect lesson in how not to label the opposing sides. Not only is one side "pro-choice" or "abortion rights activists," while the other side are "anti-abortion advocates," but Gillam finds "conservatives" on the pro-life side four times, but never finds an L word for the abortion-on-demand folks:
-- "The expected Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court of conservative jurist Samuel Alito, who is favored by anti-abortion advocates, is seen as a key turning point. Yet it is only the latest in a series of blows to abortion rights advocates..."
In her report yesterday on existing home sales, Reuters reporter Kristin Roberts chose to emphasize a one-month decline in December and negative anecdotal information from the Midwest, while failing to give her readers favorable big-picture data that had been handed to her on a silver platter.
Here's how the press release from the National Association of Realtors that served as the starting point for Ms. Roberts' report began:
Existing-Home Sales Down in December But 2005 Sets a Record
Existing-home sales declined in December but easily set an annual record, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Reuters reporter Claudia Parsons writes that with the threats against American journalists, including Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll who is currently being held hostage, reporters in Iraq are unable to provide a full picture of what's going on in the country.
The dire security situation combined with unwillingness by U.S. publishers and editors to give space to in-depth reports means there are giant gaps in the picture seen by the American public, said Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley.
"I don't think there's ever been such a difficult situation, with the possible exception of Moscow or Beijing during the height of the Cold War," Schell said. He added that U.S. TV news media in particular were doing an "abysmal job"....
Over at "Best of the Web," James Taranto has provided another very typical service of his, knocking the bias and inaccuracy at the Reuters wire service. (Trying to find any data on the Internet on the survey "by the Chicago-based National Qualitative Centers" reported below outside this strange Reuters article is tough, although there is this liberal delight from a public-radio station discussion board.) Reports Taranto:
Something is wrong with the arithmetic in this dispatch from Reuters:
President George W. Bush ranks as the least popular and most bellicose of the last ten U.S. presidents, according to a new survey.
There were only two subjects that concerned the media during President Bush’s December 19th news conference: Bad news on Iraq and domestic spying. Problems in Iraq accounted for six questions, while there were seven on domestic spying. (Note: Questions were counted based on their topic. Follow-ups on the same subject were not counted as separate questions.)
The assembled members of the press seemed relatively uninterested in the successful Iraqi elections. In fact, there were no questions specifically about the elections or about the improving economy.
In his article, “Iraq insurgents say election truce won’t last”, Fadel al-Badrani offers the reader a view from the insurgents’ side of the war. According to al-Badrani, “secular insurgents and Islamist militants” (AKA Islamofascists) plan to resume attacks against US troops and Iraqis that cooperate with the United States. Politicians, such as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafair, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, are also listed as targets.
Al-Badrani, an Iraqi journalist working for Reuters, was able to obtain quotes from leaders of the insurgent groups, such as “Muhammad’s Army” and the “Islamic Army”. Leaders called the attacks part of their “holy war”. The leader of Muhammad’s Army promised that “the coming days will be tough on the Americans and their supporters in the Iraqi Army.”
The BBC has a funny view of international law - make sure the obligations fall on Israel.
Yesterday, Israel responded to a broad Hezbollah attack - including artillery-supported cross-border raids - by, well, responding:
Hizbullah launched a failed attempt to kidnap soldiers Monday in an assault on Mount Dov and the northern town of Rajar and a coordinated mortar and rocket barrage on northern Galilee towns and kibbutzim.
A fierce Israeli response killed four infiltrators and struck at Hizbullah targets in south Lebanon, but at least 12 soldiers were wounded and a house severely damaged in Metulla by Hizbullah mortar fire.
The American media are giving President Bush low marks and mixed reviews regarding his just ended trip to China. Here are some of today’s headlines:
Bush’s China Visit Fails To Narrow Differences (Reuters via Boston Globe)
China Mostly Aloof to U.S. Priorities (Chicago Tribune)
U.S., China Seem to be Worlds Apart (Newsday)
Bush Skirts Rights Issue (LA Times)
CBS’s “Early Show” this morning began its segment on this issue: “The president is getting mixed reviews for his Asia trip after little was accomplished in his meetings with China.”
Yet, the Chinese media were much more positive about Bush’s trip. For example, People’s Daily Online offered the following headline, “Media: Bush's China visit sends "positive signal" to China-US relations.” It conveniently gave a recap of opinions being expressed by other newspapers and websites with links:
A Reuters story written by reporter Vicki Allen begins as follows: "Top U.S. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into leaks of information used by The Washington Post in an article on the CIA's secret global prison system
Today in Paris, the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) issued a fatwa, or religious decree, against the participation of Muslims in the 10 days of rioting and arson in France. Typical of the mainstream media coverage of this action, is this report from Reuters:
“One of France's largest Islamic groups issued a fatwa against rioting on Sunday after officials suggested Muslim militants could be partly to blame for violent protests scarring poor neighbourhoods around the country.
“The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) quoted the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad to back up the religious edict condemning the disorder and destruction the unrest caused.
“Many rioters are of North African Arab and black African descent and assumed to be Muslims. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and other officials have hinted Islamist militants may be manipulating angry teenagers to defy the French state.”
There was a lot of media excitement today surrounding the rare “closed session” called in the Senate by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). In fact, a Google news search identified 684 articles and postings on the subject. For example, Reuters reported:
“Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed session on Tuesday to protest what they decried as the Republican-led body's inattention to intelligence failures on Iraq and the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
“Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.”
MSNBC, with the assistance of the Associated Press, even reported this event as a huge win for the Democrats, with a sub-headline, “Following unusual closed Senate session, Democrats claim victory.”
Yet, from what I can tell, there was little if any discussion by most media outlets including Reuters, MSNBC, and AP concerning how rarely this rule is invoked, and under what circumstances in American history it has been employed.
Remember all those media predictions about the toxic nature of the floodwaters in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina? Well, it appears that much like their prognostications of casualties, how long it was going to take to drain the city, and the likely devastation to America’s economy, this too was an extraordinary exaggeration.
Here’s a sampling of the press opinions concerning this water made shortly after Katrina hit:
ABC News reported on September 6: "Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.”
Reuters reported on September 7: “The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported on September 8: “Chemicals leaking from cars and factories will cause one of costliest environmental cleanups ever.”
Our friends at the American Thinker have found a fabulous piece about falsified Iraq war propaganda at a British website called Sir Humphrey’s. What SH has identified is a series of pictures of “insurgents” in Iraq taken by an Associated Press and Reuters photographer that clearly appear to have been posed or set up. Even better, the same posed vignettes became part of a BBC report about violence in Iraq.
The print media is set to have a field day with William Bennett's comments regarding an outlandish book. (Touched on earlier on Newsbusters by Brent Baker and Dave Pierre.)
Reuters leads off with: "The White House on Friday criticized as 'not appropriate' a comment from former Education Secretary William Bennett that aborting black babies would reduce the U.S. crime rate."
ABC News (running an AP article), leads off with the title: Bennett: Black Abortions Would Lower Crime."
The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday.
Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq."
He urged Warner to demand that Rumsfeld resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the U.S. forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law"...
Wilking's pictureDid Reuters photographer Rick Wilking falsely imply that President Bush asked permission to go to the restroom during his trip to the United Nations?
Yesterday, as I noted here at NewsBusters, Wilking took a picture ("destined to become one of the most joked about photos of the month" in the words of Editor & Publisher) of a note allegedly being written by President Bush. Here is the caption which Reuters assigned to the photo according to Yahoo News:
U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war.
With the caption worded as it is, the casual observer (including me last night) is very likely to conclude that Bush was asking Rice for leave to go to the men's room.
Back during the Clinton years, we often heard liberal reporters state that the press and public should stay out of a president's personal life. Fast-forward seven years later to today at the UN when Reuters News Service photographer Rick Wilking snapped a picture of a note President Bush was writing to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which stated: "I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible."
As reported here yesterday, the Associated Press thoroughly misrepresented and understated better than expected inflation data that was released by the Labor Department. Today, Reuters botched a report released by the Commerce Department concerning retail sales:
“U.S. retail sales dropped by a larger-than-expected 2.1 percent in August, the sharpest drop in almost four years, after car purchases collapsed from July's near-record level, government data showed on Wednesday.”
Unfortunately, Reuters chose not to inform its readers that the drop in car sales was expected for a number of reasons. First, July was a blowout month for automakers due to huge incentives. Second, August is historically a bad month for the car industry as it prepares to rollout the new model year in September.
On September 3, a question was asked here: “How Will Hurricane-Related Halliburton Contract Be Reported?” Yesterday, Reuters answered this with an article entitled “Firms With Bush Ties Snag Katrina Deals.”
“Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
“One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.”
A lot of focus was given to Vice President Cheney in this article:
Reuters News Service left little to the imagination of its readers as to who they believe is responsible for the death's associated with Hurricane Katrina. The story, "New Orleans collects dead as officials dodge blame" reads more like an opinion piece than it does a news report.
The opening paragraph is about as sneering and partisan as I have ever seen: "New Orleans began the gruesome task of collecting its thousands of dead on Sunday as the Bush administration tried to save face after its botched rescue plans left the city at the mercy of Hurricane Katrina."
The president was described by his doctors in his annual physical as being in "superior" condition for a man his age.
He takes pride in his six-day-a-week workout regimen and last week he showcased the statistics on his heart rate monitor for a group of reporters who rode with him. The monitor showed he burned 1,493 calories in a two-hour ride, also 17 miles.
When is a baby a baby? Apparently for the media not when in the womb, even if that child is "planned and wanted" as former Clinton Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was wont of saying. Reporting on the recent birth of Susan Anne Catherine Torres, the daughter of Virginia woman Susan Torres, who suffered a stroke resulting in brain death in May, CBS Early Show correspondents used medical jargon to refer to baby Susan when she was as yet unborn:
CBS The Early Show 3 August 2005 (Wednesday)
Julie Chen, co-host, from Los Angeles studio: "In Virginia, a remarkable delivery, as we noted, a woman who had been brain dead for nearly three months gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports."
Thalia Assuras, narrating taped video, the opening seconds of which were not heard: "...May, the day before Mother's Day, but even in death, the 26-year old gave life again Tuesday by Caesarean section, to one pound thirteen ounce namesake Susan Anne Catherine Torres, a sister for brother Peter."
Jason Torres, husband: "I just hope they see it as the last beautiful act from their mother."
Assuras: "Husband Jason Torres spoke to CBS News in June about his decision to maintain his wife on life support at the Virginia Hospital Center at Arlington, Virginia, until the fetus reached viability. The minimum of 24 weeks in the womb for survivability was surpassed in July."
CBS News isn't alone. The Associated Press and Reuters (yeah, the same guys who call terrorists "militants"), also insisted on the term fetus to describe baby Susan when she was yet unborn.